Coronavirus cases in England are beginning to rise yet again, with the number of people testing positive for the virus at its highest level in six weeks. A total of 17,162 people tested positive for the coronavirus in England in the week up to 26 May, up 22 per cent from 14,051 the previous week, according to statistics from NHS Test and Trace.
The most recent weekly figure is the highest since the week up to 14 April, when 18,050 people tested positive. This may be due to the new variant of the virus, known as the Delta Variant, which has targeted mainly the north west of England.
The Delta Variant, also known by it’s scientific name of the ‘B.1.617 variant’, was discovered in India and recognised by the World Health Organization. It is widely believed to be twice as likely to spread compared to the P.1 (Brazilian origin) and B.1.1.7 (U.K. origin) variants, which were already more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19.
The variant was first seen with two mutations; one that promotes infectivity and another responsible for puncturing the immune system.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, announced the news via Twitter yesterday.
She said people would find the new labels easier to remember, and they have the added benefit of directing focus away from any variant’s country of origin. There have been a number of cases where people of Chinese origin have been violently targeted following the original outbreak of the virus in Wuhan, therefore, provisions for the name had to be made in order to prevent attacks on Indian citizens.
Dr Kerkhove said the new label, based on the Greek alphabet, was chosen following “wide consultation”.
When testing to see if the variant can be managed by the vaccine, the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine was 88 percent effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant two weeks after the second dose, while the Oxford/AstraZeneca was 60 percent effective.
Portugal has now been removed from the green list for travel, following a rise in cases of the Delta Variant in various areas of the country.
Via figures posted by Public Health England (PHE), LSJ News found that over 6000 people were diagnosed with having the Delta Variant in England on May 16.
This number is shown to have steadily accumulated throughout a seven-week period, spanning back to the original first cases of the variant on the 28th of March.
The end of lockdown is now set to be delayed by at least two weeks as the third wave of cases hits the country.